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Brazen Racing Ultra Half Series - Update for 2016/2017


Those who have raced some of the Brazen Ultra Half Series races may be wondering which are the most difficult, which are the easiest, what is the best strategy to optimize your series times, etc.  Below is our own (highly subjective) ranking of the series races in order of difficulty.  As always, your mileage may vary!


To frame the question, below is the series in chronological order with the basic stats for each event.    


2016/2017 Brazen Ultra Half Series 


Course

Distance

Gain

Male - CR

Female - CR

Tarantula

13.3

2,208

1:31:12

1:47:06

Lagoon Valley

13.1

2,374

1:27:31

1:37:27

Diablo Fall

13.5

2,492

1:36:47

1:52:01

Diablo Stomp 30K

19.5

4,254

   

Summit Rock

13.2

2,867

1:31:47

1:55:54

NYD

13.2

2,075

1:17:15

1:31:47

Badger Cove

13.1

2,500

1:22:55

1:34:50

Diablo Spring

13.5

2,492

1:30:40

1:50:36

Diablo 50K

31.1

8,246

4:06:21

4:34:22

Wildcat

13.1

2,204

1:23:54

1:42:52

Trailquake

13.1

2,906

1:34:07

1:55:15

Bad Bass

13.3

1,544

1:24:12

1:30:57

Bear Creek

13.1

3,088

1:31:27

1:50:02

Trail Hog

13.4

1,760

1:29:47

1:31:21

Dragon Fly

13.5

2,718

1:40:20

1:51:54

Rocky Ridge

13.7

3,989

1:33:27

1:47:27

 

So now, the half marathons from most difficult to "easiest"...


1.  Rocky Ridge.  Close to 4000 ft of elevation gain, potential for early October heat in the tri-valley (Las Trampas near Dublin), a completely exposed second loop with amazing views, and almost zero flat running.  This makes for a great end of season measuring stick for how far your fitness has grown through the year. 


2.  Drag 'n Fly.  Slightly less elevation gain than Bear Creek, but Contra Loma/Black Diamond Mines near Antioch has steeper climbs and incorporates a more technical single track section.  Also has higher potential for being toasty warm and is completely exposed.

 

3.  Bear Creek.  On a hot day, can be flip-flopped with Drag 'n Fly, but generally more runnable.  Regardless, almost completely exposed course in Brionnes park, mid-August warmth, and calf burning climbs make for a rewarding day.

 

4.  Trailquake.  Sanborn park (near Saratoga) can get steamy hot with unusually high humidity in June.  Long uphill start can turn good legs to mush before you reach the first aid station.  Technical descent with 10K traffic adds to the fun.  Not ranked higher because of shade and potential for early June fog layer...makes for a cooler bout of suffering than #3 and #4. 

 

5.  Summit Rock.  Testament to the difficulty of this course (also held in Sanborn park), this December version on a slightly modified course still presents plenty of early-race climbing and technical, potentially congested descending. 

 

6.  Diablo (April).  Lengthy, unending mid-race climb can leave your legs empty for the long downhill finish.  Early April on Mt Diablo presents its own set of challenges, but the views are worth it. 

 

7.  Diablo (November).  Same course and #7, but with much less heat (hopefully). 

 

8.  Wildcat.  Four noteworthy climbs primarily on fire roads.  Great views of the Bay from Wildcat/Tilden Parks in the east bay hills, and good odds on not getting a scorcher.  

 

9.  Tarantula.  Potential for mid-October heat at Los Vaqueros reservoir near Brentwood.  Route is completely exposed, and by October will be dry and barren.  Can be a mental challenge to see (for miles) exactly where you're headed and how much 'up' is left, and the course goes right by the start/finish area around the 10 mile mark.  Almost completely on fire roads, the route is not technical, but the many long rollers keep it interesting.

 

10.  Lagoon Valley.  After a flat loop around the lagoon at Pena Adobe near Vacaville, this course continues with two loops of moderately rolling hills punctuated by climbs up to the antenna station near the top.  Known for 'Trail-pocalypse' in 2012 when a hail storm accompanied by torrential diagonally slanted rain moved through shortly after the start.  Note to self, late October can be muddy in Yolo County!

 

11.  Badger Cove.  Slightly less weather vulnerability than #10, very similar course with two nearly identical loops on fire roads at Lake Del Valle near Livermore.  Has some short, but crazy steep climbs/descents.  Begins and ends with fairly flat 1.5 miles on groomed fire road.  Bring your trail shoes if it's been raining.

 

12.  Trail Hog.  Held in Joseph Grant County Park on the way to Mt Hamilton, this course is a fun roller coaster.  Almost entirely on fire roads, the challenge comes in the loops and the sneaky rolling climbs.  It can also get quite hot in early September, and it is almost entirely exposed.  If you're lucky, you'll get to see a herd of wild boars!  

 

13.  Bad Bass.  Looping around Lake Chabot (near Castro Valley) is always a treat.  The July version can be warm, but most often has a fog layer until mid-morning.  First and last 1.5 miles are on paved bike path, but there are plenty of hills to slow you down on the far side of the lake.  Be sure to save something for Jackson Grade...don't spend it all going up Live Oak at mile 4.  

 

14.  New Year's Day.  January version of Bad Bass, but in reverse.  Simple difference...it's easier to go down Live Oak than up it.  Great way to bring in the new year!

 

Best of luck in picking your own best combination this year!

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